Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Expressways and Traffic

To answer the question presented earlier, I present a question of my own – What is “Traffic”? Depending on how you define traffic, you may or may not find an answer. If Traffic is the number of vehicles, then expressways wont do a thing about that unless they have portholes to another universe at the end of them. If traffic is slow-moving vehicles, then expressways will do much to solve this. The reality is that traffic is somewhere in between the two, and that brings me to my point.

Expressways will not eliminate ‘Traffic’, but rather, they will move it around better. Building a highway from the burbs to the downtown core will not eliminate traffic in the burbs or the core, but will eliminate traffic between the two. This is the main objective of expressways, and in that it succeeds. This question comes in response to the proposals by the Toronto Party to expand our existing highway grid. Current proposals are to extend the Allen to Bathurst, however I personally think that, if done right, it can be extended to Davenport and Dupont. Doing either of those will not eliminate traffic in the core, but will reduce it between Eglinton West subway station and wherever the end point is. Take a bus ride on the 63 Ossington bus route and tell me that the traffic on Eglinton West and Oakwood is normal. No, it’s not, because the Allen as it stands is unnatural.

One of the problems with supporting highways in the modern era is that people assume you are talking about highways of the past. They assume that you want to demolish random rows of houses. The Allen could be extended from Eglinton to the park just to the south with a short tunnel. Sure the highway will have to run though the park, but we can find ways to mitigate those effects. People assume any extension of the Allen would destroy Spadina, but the current proposals by the Toronto Party would NOT see the Allen end at Spadina. I personally support a one-lane each direction exit onto Spadina, this is far from the huge neighbourhood destroying freeway that was proposed in the 1970’s.

One of the problems with NIMBY comes to light with highways like the Allen. More well-off residents, such as those in Forrest Hill, have chosen to live between where most residents live, and where most residents work. This means that they either have to go through forest hill, or around it. Currently most people go around, and hence the traffic. Extending the Allen, if done in a smart way, using Tolls even, is the right way to go.

Bringing us back to the original question, the answer is the same as in the first sentence. Either all highways reduce traffic or none do depending on your definition. This extension will not eliminate traffic in the core, but it will reduce traffic on the way.

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